Philip Morris International, the world's largest tobacco company, is prepared to sue the British government should it implement a law requiring plain packaging of cigarettes, a document showed.
The UK government has conducted a consultation with its Department of Health on potential legislation which would force cigarette makers to sell their products in plain packages with graphic health warnings and no branding.
The maker of Marlboro cigarettes is prepared to protect its rights in the courts and to seek fair compensation for the value of its property, the company has told the UK government in response to its consultation.
The UK government said in April it wanted to implement plain packaging after a review found it could reduce the incidence of children taking up smoking. It published draft regulations in June, and launched a six-week consultation that ended last week.
Philip Morris submitted its response to the UK government after the consultation.
'Standardized packaging' is a euphemism for government-mandated destruction of property, Philip Morris said in its submission today. It is unlawful, disproportionate, and at odds with the most basic requirements of the rule of law.
If it goes ahead, Britain would be the second country after Australia to ban cigarette branding.
Australia is already facing challenges at the World Trade Organization over complaints the laws create illegal obstacles to commerce.
Uruguay which is also in litigation with Philip Morris over labeling in packages had a support clause included in the latest Mercosur Caracas Declaration.
Mercosur member states express full support to Uruguay in the event of any interference from the multi-national tobacco industry in the implementation of policies to control tobacco, which is considered an attack on States sovereign rights to define their healthcare policies as established in Article V from the WHO accord for the control of tobacco.
Likewise Mercosur welcomes the recent opening of the International Cooperation Center for Tobacco Control at Uruguay's Public Health ministry, which has the purpose of developing, analyzing, synthesizing and reporting knowledge and information relative to issues of its own experience such as free of smoke environments, sanitary warnings and stop smoking.